Official website of Notaires de France

Differents types of divorce


In case of agreement between the spouses, the Notaire is the first to intervene now.
Since an important law came into force on 1 January 2005, there are now four types of divorce.

  • 1st type - Divorce by mutual consent

    • The spouses act together and need to appear before the judge only once.

    • The spouses have to agree on a draft contract that covers all the personal and property consequences of the divorce such as custody of any children, financial support (prestation compensatoire), division of assets and debts, etc.

    • New: The bill to modernize the justice of the XXI century, currently before Parliament, provides for the possibility for spouses who opt for divorce by mutual consent, not to go before the judge. The divorce agreement, countersigned by lawyer for both parties and set the point by point all the legal effects of separation, would be recorded by the french notaire. The husband then would have a fifteen-day withdrawal period before their divorce becomes effective. This new procedure could however be excluded than optional and in the presence of minor children.

  • 2nd type - Divorce on the basis that both spouses accept that the marriage has broken down

    • The judge checks that both spouses have freely given their consent.

    • The judge then ensure that each spouse freely gave his agreement. The judge pronounces the divorce and rules on the consequences.

  • 3rd type - Divorce following irrevocable damage to the conjugal bond

    • Only one spouse can apply for divorce when the conjugal bond has been irrevocably damaged.

    • This is the case if the spouses live apart for at least two years.

    • It is the judge who pronounces the divorce and rules on the consequences.

  • 4th type - Contested or hostile divorce

    • One spouse accuses the other of serious or repeated breach of the duties and obligations of marriage that have made continued cohabitation impossible.

    • The judge declares the spouses divorced and rules on the consequences.

    • In order to encourage spouses as far as possible to come to an agreement, the new law creates three avenues which enable spouses to move from one type of divorce to another.

  • In the 2nd, 3rd and 4th types, the hearing before the judge is always preceded by attempted conciliation

    • The judge takes temporary measures to apply during the divorce proceedings (offer of mediation, establishing separate residences, assigning the use of the conjugal home and its contents, children's place of residence,  exchange for payment, setting maintenance payments, load distribution, drawing up an estimated inventory, appointing a notaire to draw up plans for the liquidation of the matrimonial regime , etc.).

  • The financial support system

    • This is now most frequently in the form of a cash sum. It may be paid as an annuity for life or as a combination of cash sum and annuity.

    • In the event of death of the spouse paying the financial support, his/her heirs only have to continue paying the financial support till the assets from the estate are exhausted.

  • How gifts are made between spouses

    • Gifts between spouses with immediate effect (gifts of existing assets) are now irrevocable.

    • As concerns gifts of future assets (gifts to a surviving spouse), these are automatically revoked by divorce unless the spouses wish otherwise.